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STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2015 TOPIC AREA: Sustainability, energy, and health CENTER: MetroFreight

Alternatives to Truck Transport for Food Products

Project Summary

The daily food distribution in the New York Metropolitan area is primarily by truck to and from HPTM. The number of daily truck movements at HPTM is reported to be 15,000. These activities include the delivery and pick-up of food products. These trucks on the roads increase congestion, pollution, and wear-and-tear of the roads. In turn, these increase the cost of living in the City, increase commute time, increase medical problems and medical cost, and reduce productivity, to name a few negative effects.

The HPTM distribution center is a vital part of the food supply chain in the New York metropolitan area. Firms’ agents arrive at the food distribution center to select and pick up food. Some food is ordered in advance; therefore, it is only picked up. The food is hauled away by truck, van or other commercial vehicles many of which are refrigerated. Two types of truck trips are made to HPTM:

The inbound truck trip is for delivering food products to the distribution center (56% west of the Hudson River and 44% east of the Hudson River).[ii]

The outbound truck trip is for hauling food products from the distribution center to grocery stores, restaurants, and other food venues (17% west of the Hudson River and 79% east of the Hudson River). [iii]

The demand for the distribution center’s services generates 15,000 truck trips per day, including some from large distances away. Traffic flow is constant, occurring 24 hours a day, especially during the very early morning hours. There are times during the daily operating cycle when congestion[iv] is formed on the roads leading to and from the distribution center and congestion is formed in the terminal itself. Congestion implies air pollution, noise pollution, excess road wear-and-tear, an increase of public spending on health and infrastructure maintenance and other negative externalities.

The large HPTM distribution center does not have simple and quick access. The geographical layout of the New York Metropolitan area of highways, bridges and tunnels along rivers and creeks complicates the surface transportation delivery. Delivery takes more miles to drive and more time to deliver. As a result, at times of peak demand, vehicles spend excessive time waiting and idling and on the road wasting fuel and emitting CO2 and other gases.

We propose to study the feasibility of incorporating waterborne transportation such as a barge into the distribution system. A distribution system, which includes barges would save a very large number of truck miles and truck trips per day, thereby reducing fuel consumption, congestion, wear-and-tear on the roadways and pollution.

The following are the basic tasks to be undertaken:

  1. Literature Review: The research team will review existing national and global operation studies, reports, briefs and press releases in order to understand the operation characteristics, benefits, limitations, and potential challenges for HPTM
  2. Initial Site Visits of HPTM: The research team will schedule a site visit to conduct preliminary interviews with the HPTM management, some wholesalers and some customers (retailers) on their daily visit to the terminal. The site visit objective is to gather information with respect to the facility itself, facility operations, and customers.
  3. Develop Surveys: The research team will develop two surveys, one survey for wholesalers and a second survey for customers (retailers). The data and observations obtained in the initial site visits will be an important input in survey development. The surveys will be designed to pursue data on subjects that are instrumental in developing a barge alternative transportation method and to determine the demand for such service.
  4. Administer, Processing and Analysis of the Surveys: Using the contact information obtained from the Terminal management, the Contractor will make a determination of who to contact for an oral interview. A determination will also be made if to seek venders to complete a survey by mail/email.   The research team will carry out an analysis of the data obtained from observations, surveys and literature review.
  5. Final Report: The research team will summarize the results of the study.


[i] Deputy Mayor Steel and NYCEDC Announce Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market Commits to Stay in the Bronx Until At Least 2021, Press Release, December 31, 2013,

[ii] Hunts Point – Sheridan Land Use and Transportation Study, NYCDOT, NYCEDC, NYCPLANNING, and Department of Housing and Development, Dec 2013 Page 24.

[iii] Hunts Point – Sheridan Land Use and Transportation Study, NYCDOT, NYCEDC, NYCPLANNING, and Department of Housing and Development, Dec 2013 Page 24.

[iv] Hunt Point Truck Study, URS/Goodkind & O’Dea, Inc., 2004, Page 15.,  HuntsPointTruckStudy_URS.pdf,


Camille Kamga
Director, University Transportation Research Center (UTRC), Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering
160 Convent Avenue
Marshak Hall, Suite 910New York, NY 10031
United States
[email protected]